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Beatlemania: The sequel

Fans line up for a very long-awaited release

London store

November 21, 1995
Web posted at: 3:45 p.m. EST

(CNN) -- It had to happen. From bell bottoms to the Brady Bunch, what goes around comes around. And now, after some 25 years, Beatlemania is back. Fans the world over headed to record stores Tuesday to snatch up the latest release from the world's most famous pop group.

The "Beatles Anthology One" went on sale in the U.K. at one minute past midnight, and hundreds of fans queued up for the Beatle beat. In its first few hours, London's giant HMV bookstore peddled almost 1,000 copies of the album, which comprises studio music, live recordings, TV appearances, and a newly released song from the late John Lennon titled "Free as a Bird."

One young Brit explained the band's longstanding appeal with these words: "Just the music's brilliant," he said. "That's why you like em, isn't it?" Another said the fab four makes today's bands seem decidedly old hat. "It's not the same, and there's not the same excitement," he observed. "It's all been done before."

Beatles video

Of course, new-release naysayers have the same complaint, saying it has all been done before and twice as well. In particular, "Free as a Bird," which features new backing track and vocals from Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, has drawn scathing reviews.

"It is total rubbish," critic Jonathon King told the London Times, "It sounds like a very bad demo tape made by elderly session musicians struggling to earn a crust."

As noted by Reuters news service, Britain's Independent featured a cartoon lampooning the "Threetles," who sing "All You Need is Greed" while an angelic John Lennon looks on.

People lining up

The public is more forgiving of old favorites. Like their British counterparts, U.S. Beatle-lovers from Atlanta to New York lined up in the wee hours. "This is really something new. Hearing it in a completely different light should be interesting," said one Atlanta audiophile on the street. Enthused another: "The first CD I ever got was 'Abbey Road.'"

Music memorabilia producers are hoping that loyalty, along with a new generation of listeners, will spell big-time Beatlemania. Denny Somach, President and CEO of Musicom International, said the Beatles' have the biggest cross-generational pull of all.

Denny Somach

"Sinatra was unable to do it. Elvis Presley was unable to do it. But when I was 11 years old I watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan with my parents," Somach told CNN's Business Day. "I'm watching this anthology now with my 10-year-old. It is causing, for the first time in music, a cross-generational type of situation." (230K AIFF sound or 230K WAV sound)

If the anthology is well-received, the remaining Beatles could venture onto the tour circuit, predicted Somach -- just the sort of statement to drive record sales through the roof and Beatlemania II into a bonafide phenomenon.

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